Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Sunday Times interview 18th May

The Script look forward to the next chapter
With a debut album in the pipeline, the Script look forward to the next chapter


May 18, 2008
Lisa Verrico

In the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios, the Script are sitting on stools, squirming through a Q&A session with the DJ Simon Mayo that involves revealing the most-played songs on their iPods and which of the trio is the chattiest. When the front man, Danny O’Donoghue, is asked to describe the Script’s sound, he steals a cheesy quote about “a new sort of Celtic soul” from the band’s own press release, then, embarrassed, buries his head in his hands.

The nerves, the stools, the Smash Hits-style questions and the fact that all three are good-looking lads from Dublin would lead a casual observer to conclude that the Script are Ireland’s latest boy-band export. Except they are in the prestigious, if slightly shabby, BBC studios to record a concert for Radio 2, in a slot that recently featured Duffy and Adele, and when they start to play they sound like a hip-hop-infused Maroon 5.

Far from a manufactured act, the Script consists of a pair of former R&B producers - 25-year-old O’Donoghue and the shaven-headed guitarist, Mark Sheehan, 27 - plus the funk drummer Glen Power, 28, a former session musician they met through a mutual friend four years ago. Their debut album, The Script, due in August, was entirely written, played and produced by the trio, mostly in O’Donoghue’s studio in a shed in Dublin’s run-down St James’s Street. That they are now tipped for fame in Britain and America has left the band more bemused than big-headed.

“Our only ambition was to get one of our songs on the radio,” says Sheehan. “Now, every day, we hear that more stations have playlisted the single, or Yahoo is broadcasting one of our gigs, or Perez Hilton has us on his home page. When we supported the Hoosiers in March, we didn’t expect anyone to know who we were, but we had every song sung back at us. It’s almost going too well. We’re waiting for the bad news now, because none of us believes this can continue.”

Yet the success of their debut single, We Cry, looks set to snowball. The album is stuffed with similarly catchy songs that blend hip-hop, soulful pop and 1980s rock with tales about characters they know from Dublin.

Sheehan and O’Donoghue met in their mid-teens, when the former advertised studio equipment he no longer used in Dublin’s Buy and Sell. O’Donoghue - whose pianist father played with Tom Jones and Roy Orbison - answered the ad and bought the home studio, with which, two months later, the pair began writing their first songs. Both had dropped out of school by the time the U2 manager, Paul McGuinness, took on their band Mytown and, having secured a major-label deal, sent them to America to work with a host of Alist R&B producers.

“We had produced our own demos,” recalls O’Donoghue, “but the label thought Teddy Riley and Dallas Austin could polish our sound. Our songs were soulful hip-hop, or so we thought. In the end, the album never came out. In the States, they said we were too pop. Over here, we were told we were too R&B.”

Rather than return to Dublin, the two set up base first in Orlando, then LA, where they built a tiny studio in their flat in Venice Beach and began picking up production work. “There was nothing glamor-ous about it,” says O’Donoghue. “We’d get a remix in January, and that would pay the bills until March. We had to become jacks of all trades. One day, I’d be on turntables for TLC or remixing Beenie Man, then Mark would do some programming or get a gig playing a guitar part. We were mostly scraping by.”

A remix for Justin Timberlake got them hired by Jive to help the label’s new pop signings establish their sound, but by then they were sick of writing for other artists. “We always write from our own experience,” says O’Donoghue. “When someone else sang our lyrics, they never came across as we intended.”

The Script formed almost by accident when Power, who was still based in Dublin, came to stay with his friends for a fortnight’s holiday. Rather than sunbathe, as he intended, he was taken straight from the airport to a jam session. A few hours later, the trio resolved to become a band. Their first demo tape got them a record deal, but just as they were about to begin recording, Sheehan’s mother was diagnosed as terminally ill and the guitarist decided to return to Dublin. His bandmates opted to move with him - the Script’s debut album was written between Sheehan’s hospital visits.

“I would spend every night at mum’s bedside, writing down how I felt while she slept, then go straight to the studio,” he recalls.

“There were so many emotions rattling round, the songs poured out of us. We Cry came from walking down St James’s Street early in the morning, smelling Guinness from the brewery and watching girls who should have been at school pushing babies in prams.”

The band’s storytelling songs inspired the name the Script. “We’d walk past girls with babies called Mercedes or Diamond,” says Sheehan. “You can laugh, but the reason these girls give their kids ‘expensive’ names is because they honestly believe they are giving their children a better chance in life. In no way are we looking down on them.”

Then there is the album track Rusty Halo, which refers to their Catholic upbringing and the sense that they may already have sinned too much to get to heaven. “It’s about us scouring the Bible to find a loophole that gets us out of going to hell,” explains Sheehan. “Unfortunately, we’re still searching.”

The temptations, you sense, will only become trickier - the Script’s MySpace friends are almost entirely female, while their recent appearance in a Bebo online soap saw them cast as the pop-star heart-throbs they are about to become. Their current concerns, however, are more commercial than carnal. “We tried to bet on We Cry being a hit with Paddy Power,” reveals Sheehan, referring to the Irish bookie. “But they wouldn’t let us wager on our own song. We thought if the music doesn’t work out, we should make some money in the meantime.”

I try to tell them they no longer need to scam, but the unassuming trio are unwilling to believe it.


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